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The Irishman

‘The Irishman’ is another jewel in Martin Scorsese’s directorial crown. Director of classics like ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’ and the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, his passion for movies is still evident. Such enthusiasm has seen him deliver amazing work over the decades. Screening on Netflix, ‘The Irishman’ travels a well worn Scorsese path. It may feel familiar but is no less compelling with the performances and story top notch.

Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) is an ageing hitman looking over his life. Starting out as a delivery truck driver in the 1950s, he becomes involved with the Bufalino mafia crime syndicate headed by Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci). Working his way up the ladder of crooked dealings and murder, Frank also meets powerful union boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Over the years the trio’s lives change as the noose slowly tightens on their wayward actions.

You usually can’t go wrong with a Scorsese movie and ‘The Irishman’ doesn’t disappoint. A tale of loyalty, friendship and its consequences that isn’t as bloody as you may expect. Whilst violent moments creep in, this mob drama focusses mainly on character. From Sheeran’s steely calm to Hoffa’s dogmatic personality, you come to understand what drove them to their ultimate fates. Although the occasional action sequence is great, Scorsese revels in his shady characters.

The central performances in ‘The Irishman’ are outstanding. DeNiro, Pacino and Pesci exude magnetic charisma even through the sometimes wonky de-aging CGI effects. They are well matched by their co-stars who embody their roles perfectly. Virtually none are sympathetic but there’s a certain sleazy charm they exude making them compelling. It’s amazing all this is based on true events proving once more that truth can be far more fascinating than fiction.

Yet again Scorsese delivers the goods with ‘The Irishman. Although it goes on for three and a half hours, due to his fantastic story-telling abilities, it rarely betrays its length. Netflix and other streaming services have benefitting from giving the freedom to directors like Scorsese who still have the hunger to provide interesting works as his latest does.

Rating out of 10: 9

CURRENTLY SCREENING ON NETFLIX

Bloodshot

It’s very easy to become cynical about yet another superhero movie. ‘Will this one be any different from others’? ‘Will it be exciting?’ are oft-posed questions. Such musings increase when it’s a comic book hero that general audiences know little about. ‘Bloodshot’ is based on a Valiant Comics hero. This reviewer never heard of it either but was reasonably surprised as potential viewers may be at its spectacle and action mayhem.

Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is a marine who is killed in action along with his wife. Brought back to life by a team of scientists led by Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), Ray develops superhuman powers. Intended to be used as a super-soldier weapon by a shadowy organization, Ray has other ideas. Wanting to know who killed him and his wife, his trail uncovers a global conspiracy where his over-whelming brawn is put to good use.

Directed by David S.F. Wilson, ‘Bloodshot’ is fair hokum. You know what you’re getting with a Vin Diesel film with this being no different. Lots of mumbling, dagger stares into the camera and oil-smeared muscles are on display. Added to that are the action set pieces which are well done. Despite its deficiencies, ‘Bloodshot’ isn’t boring and has good pacing.

Negating ‘Bloodshot’s good points is the mediocre plot. Whilst it embraces the international feel the story needs, it lacks any urgency. You never feel any empathy for our hero with the villains being your standard cardboard cut-outs. There’s little life to the performances although the concept of the nanotechnology Garrison uses for battle is interesting.

‘Bloodshot’ isn’t in the same league as the Marvel/DC superhero movies. Although it tries to separate itself from those works, it generally has the taste of a middling yarn those film’s writers would reject. It wisely keeps Diesel’s acting attempts to a minimum which is a feat any superhero would admire.

Rating out of 10: 4